A way of life was transformed for the residents of May Hill in the early 1960’s when houses were linked to a piped water supply. Electricity arrived to the properties on May Hill in 1957 and this allowed the pumping system to be installed to create a water supply network to properties on the Hill in 1961. Whilst some properties had deep wells which had been sunk in the gardens, many relied on surface wells which were often modified springs. It is significant that many of these wells (known locally as dip up wells) are located adjacent to public footpaths. The relatively recent arrival of piped water means a number of older residents still remember when the fetching and carrying of water made people intimate with nature and daily exercise, yet vulnerable to the variations of supply. The shared nature of the facility also brought with it responsibilities - woe betide those who muddied the waters in collecting their supplies!

After the arrival of piped water apparently many of the wells were filled in. The dip up wells which still exist on May Hill vary from well built substantial structures through to springs which have little evidence now of their previous use. They are described below. A diagram indicating their location is shown below, and GPS coordinates are given to assist with their location.

Existing Wells

The Mill well. The spring in the middle of the field was used to supply water for the steam driven corn grinding mill which operated in the late 1800s and then for the butchers shop which replaced it. Until recently it was still used by Len Pritchard for watering his flock of poultry. 69909 20070

The dip up well in the field alongside Abbey House is now covered and fenced - the house also had a deep well. 70177 20132

A spring with a sizeable stone for standing on is under the tree on Gardeners Pitch – used mainly by Oliver Gardener who lived in a cottage over the A40 but it was also used by others when other supplies dried up. Wells have been frequently used as markers for parish boundaries and this one lies on the boundary between Huntley and Longhope parishes. 70523 19823

Gardeners Well

Gardeners Well

Although not strictly a well, Roger Cox remembers as a child obtaining their water from the pool which has been created in the small stream alongside the road in Sterrys Lane opposite Elmbridge Farm. 70403 20073

Dobbins Well The well was located opposite Dobbins Cottage and used throughout his life by William Dobbins who died at 91 apparently having never slept in any other house. Robert Watkins remembers getting their water from the well. The area had been culverted and drained, but has recently been cleared so the site of the well is now evident 70683 20278

Plantation Cottage A fine stone lined well which used to serve the cottage nearby and located just above the very large lime tree 70802023

Pleasant Shades This fine hooded stone structure is next to the public footpath and served the adjacent property. This building has been derelict for many years – stone from here was used to build the village hall (commissioned by Major Ackers as a thanksgiving for his safe return from WWI and started in 1923). 71104 21057

Monks Spout, near the very old cottage of the same name is a significant spring issuing from the hillside alongside the footpath from the Glasshouse into Castle Wood. It is reputed to be associated with St Peters Abbey, Gloucester with records from 1163 reporting the Chapel de Sylvia on this site, manned by a monk and a villein called Rocelin. 71086 21217

Monks' Spout

Monks' Spout

The Holy Well Another fine stone structure alongside the footpath at the bottom of May Hill Common which was between and served Tump House and Strawberry Cottage (now ruins). The well got its name because water from the well was used to christen children at Clifford’s Mesne church. It is reported that when the cherries were in flower coachloads came to the area from as far away as Birmingham and took bottles of this water away with them as it was apparently very good for treating eye infection. 69817 22212

The Holy Well

The Holy Well

The Withy Well is an impressive structure built into the roadside bank at the far end of Yartleton Lane near the junction up to the Common. Apparently this used to serve May Hill Farm – quite a slog with a full bucket!! 68818 21540

The dip up well opposite Wingates used to serve a cottage close by - Yartleton Oak cottage had its own deep well. The water is protected by an impressively large flat boulder. 68782 21400

There is a well maintained dip up well in a field next to the public footpath beneath Sunnymeade (interestingly a residence just up the road is called Springfields). 69176 20181

Old Chapel Well is possibly the finest of the dip up wells on May Hill - a stone hooded structure which probably served a number of properties. 70347 20449

The Old Chapel Well

The Old Chapel Well

Cluterbuck Well at the side of the junction in Folly Lane is named after the owner of a cottage which used to exist nearby. He was a horse breaker and mole trapper. The spring line nearby was piped to reduce road damage in 2008 which removed the source of water from the Well. 70519 20764

Drussell’s or Drussall’s Well is a dip up well at the source of a small stream in the middle of Newent Woods which flows down into the gully known as Jacobs Ladder. There used to be four cottages close by. 69823 21509

In Bearfoot Wood to the north of the planted Cathedral there is a brick surrounded well which served the area known as Crocketts Hole where there was a cottage and there are still remnants of the old inclosure hedges. 69836 21031

The well alongside the old drovers road from Wales at the gated entrance to the National Trust land and now positioned just inside the woodland fence used to serve a pub called the White Horse which was situated nearby. There is also a pond which served to water the stock. 69854 20844


Behind The Folly. On the bank in the wood are a number of seeps but the well is now indistinct with just a few stone blocks and an old pan scattered around one of the seeps. In dry times when water was in short supply people came here from all over the hill for their supplies. 70409 20902

A spout from a spring in the field adjacent to Granny Turners Pitch which goes down from the Sterry’s Lane cross road towards Dursley Cross still flows but has now been channelled down the side of the road 70010 20146

The OS Explorer Map OL14 still shows a well at the junction of Ash Lane and All Saints Road opposite the village hall but there is no evidence of this today

There was also a dip up well in the garden of Ballingers Place and this also served neighbours - though Joe Watkins describes how its status as a private well was preserved by access being denied for one day a year (by tying up the gate with twine!!)


There is an intriguing circular depression very near the top of the hill which is often damp and regularly fills to overflowing. It lies on the access track to the east of the top just outside the outer circular embankment. There is a tumulus nearby and evidence of possible ancient hut circles in the vicinity. 69616 21236


I am grateful to Roger Cox of May Hill, Robert Watkins of Huntley, and Richard Brooks and Jan Shivel of the Wellsprings Fellowship for information about wells and photographs, and also acknowledge information gained from the following two publications about May Hill:

May Hill, a short History of this ancient beauty spot to mark the millennium 2000. Self published by Russ Green 2000

May Hill, Tales from the Yattelton. Self published by Joe Watkins 2008

Map showing location of dipwells

Map showing location of dipwells
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